Archive for February, 2006

"Shamanistic influences on Korean Christianity"

February 27, 2006

(Related: 1)

Here’s an interesting post on the shamanistic influences on Korean Christianity and how it relates to some people’s UBF experience:

I’ve been reading an article about Shamanistic influences in Korean Christianity at the Rick Ross website. ( I have seen this discussed on forums before, but I was able to connect some of the things that were said to my own experiences with UBF.

For example, the author of the article, Jeremy Reynalds, writes: One Korean scholar believes that Shamanism poses a very real danger to Biblical Christianity. He writes, “Korean Christianity faces imminent and dramatic confrontation with the power of Shamanism. If we overcome, we remain true to Jesus Christ. If we compromise, we are reduced to yet another form of Shamanism with Christian veneer” (Lee 1994:3-4). This same scholar says that “bok,” or material blessing, lies at the heart of Shamanism. He says that among other (negative concepts) shamanism emphasizes material blessing and success in society without any accompanying concern for others. “It is individualistic, self-centered and possessed with selfism; a combination which results in divisiveness. Bok is not amenable to either individual or social ethics” (Lee 1994:4). With this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the concept of Biblical blessing eventually became distorted in the Korean church.

I remember that after spending time with UBF members, I started to hear a lot about how God will “bless” us, not only with spiritual riches, but also materially (for example, when we got a large tax return, this was Gods blessing in our lives). Also, these blessings were connected with the things we would do in life; if we faithfully carried out the ministry God had for us (a UBF-based ministry), we would gain Gods blessing. I have no problem believing that God blesses us when we obey him (for example, He blessed Daniel when Daniel abstained from food forbidden by God). But I have also learned that sometimes, people who live godly lives have hard lives in this world, and sometimes those who live apart from God have comfortable lives in this world (for example, in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, in which the sinful man is rich in this life, and godly Lazarus is a poor man). We had started to think we would be guaranteed blessings if we did the things UBF prescribed for us. When things in our lives started to get difficult, we thought we were doing something wrong, even though God often uses hard times to test and strengthen our faith. Another quote in the comments section…

I recall that Sam Lee applied the “shamanistic” label to the UBF “missionaries” he expelled for attending charismatic revival meetings, as described here. Turns out that Sam Lee and his disciples fit the definition of “shamanistic” better and the definition of “Christian” worse.

"The Discipleship Game" – Rules taught by men

February 17, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)


The following excerpt is a continuation of chapter 1 of the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. The author reveals one of the first twists of Scripture by abusive disciplers (“shepherds” in UBF): the expansion of the biblical definition of sin. We’ve seen this plenty in UBF. For example, UBF sermons have proclaimed that students missing meetings or Bible study appointments for any reason is a grave sin. Missing the UBF Sunday meeting for any reason is equated with “breaking the Sabbath”. They invent their own sinner categories such as “the slippery sheep.” (Hint for UBF recruiters: They’re not “slippery;” they’re just avoiding you and your constant pressuring.)

I continue to be contacted by students from major and minor UBF chapters, who describe the distress caused by UBF’s imposition of their man-made rules on them. Here’s the excerpt:

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul warns of the foolishness of man-made rules: “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom…but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” The Apostle also admonishes us, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon or a Sabbath day” (Col. 2:8-23).

Leaders in most discipleship groups will admit that their rules are different than those in most churches. The truth is they feel they are closer to what an authentic Christian experience should be. I have heard many people compare the discipleship groups they were in to monastic orders or even the army. Some disciplers even draw the comparison: “We are God’s Green Berets!” But when people are inducted into such orders or join the military, they know what they are getting into and know what the rules will be. Ask yourself: When did you agree to the rules? When did you find out what the rules were?

The rules of abusive discipleship are not evident in the beginning. What is initially obvious is a great display of personal attention, love, and caring. This is what people usually (and understandably) find so attractive about such groups. They will call you even when no one else does, they will invite you out to dinner, they will tell you that they care. They will also tell you that you can grow much faster spiritually by having a discipler who is wiser (than you) in the Lord. They will impress upon you all the wonderful benefits of being a part of such a program. And they will teach you that Jesus did this exact same thing with his disciples. You will be assigned a “buddy” to stand alongside and be your constant friend. It is often true that, with spiritual guidance, we can grow much faster. The problem is that, in some discipleships, spiritual growth accelerates for a short yet seductive period before being restricted by controlling techniques.

As your relationship with the abusive discipler develops, you find out there are rules–actually more rules than you might have expected. By contrast, there won’t be hidden rules as you learn in healthy discipleship.

You may be led to believe that any violation of the disciplers rules can be a sin. This is part of the deceptive and hidden agenda built into the program. You begin to believe that it is actually sinful to not follow the rules once you have accepted the discipler as your buddy.

Once you become involved in a domineering program, you frequently discover that its considered sinful (or at least backsliding in your spiritual development) to break your commitment and end the relationship.

In a controlling discipleship, there are other ideas that are hidden from you. Aberrant discipleship teaches new meanings for such words as obey, submit, die to self, and brokenness. Their meaning is altered from the true Biblical understanding of these concepts. Abusive disciplers expand the meanings far beyond what the Bible teaches, to imply that, anytime you do not want to accept the advice of a leader, you are likely not broken, obedient, submissive, or dying to self. These non-Biblical definitions are usually concealed until the abusive disciplers feel you are trusted enough to accept their teachings.

In abusive discipleships, sin is expanded to mean almost anything that the leaders do not like (e.g., challenging leaders actions, not obeying leaders advice, disagreeing with leaders, questioning leaders, or openly criticizing leaders).

The most common non-Biblical idea that is planted in members minds by abusive groups is that they are rebellious, hardhearted, or prideful when they decide not to follow the group’s rules. Breaking a rule is usually taken to mean sinning against God. This is coercion because these dedicated Christians will force themselves to follow agendas they would otherwise refuse to accept.

An important, yet subtle, rule is:

You should wait until both you and your discipler
agree before you actually make an important decision.

You are led to believe that you should get this confirmation so you will “know” that whatever you want to do is God’s will. Actually, it simply means getting permission from the discipler.

Abusive disciplers expect you to:

  • make considerable time in your schedule for them
  • call them frequently to get advise
  • meet with them often
  • share with or confess your sins to them, and to be “transparent” to them in every area of your life (UBF: sogam sharing)
  • trust them with all your most intimate secrets–even though they may have nothing to do with sin (UBF: write a many-page “life testimony” containing intimate details which then gets “edited” down to 2 pages)
  • discuss even your non-moral decisions with them
  • trust the advice your discipler gives you, and obey this discipler in every area of your life.

John Jun on the "enemies of God"

February 13, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

From the same recent “message” in which he sees the parents of UBF recruits as an “obstacle,” John Jun, the newly “inaugurated” Director of UBF states:

Burning anger consumed him, like a volcano. He took the disgrace as his personal insult. Out of his spiritual anger, he committed himself to killing this enemy of God, and removing the disgrace of Israel and the insult against God. David’s challenging spirit [classic UBF-speak] came from his holy spiritual anger.

God’s people [UBF-code meaning “UBF members”] must have spiritual anger. Once, Apostle Paul was preaching the gospel to an important official who had a spiritual desire (Ac 13:4-12). But a sorcerer tried to turn him from the faith. Then Paul, filled with holy anger, cursed him saying, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!.” Then the enemy of God became blind. Here we can see that if we truly love God and God’s flock, we come to have spiritual anger naturally. I pray that we also love God and God’s flock from the heart, and challenge the enemies of God with spiritual anger.

The language and philosophy here are not substantially different from Sam Lee’s: “We must HATE the enemies of God!!!” The future direction of UBF seems set. As in the past, those who disagree with UBF’s cultic methods are labeled the “enemies of God.” Internal dissent is also “of the enemy” and not tolerated. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, not that much more could have been expected from an old crony like Jun.

"The Discipleship Game"

February 3, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

The following is the beginning of chapter 1, “The Discipleship Game,” from the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. A few chapters of the book are on-line. One of the editors of the book is a former member of UBF who was personally abused by Lee/Barry. The game described in chapter 1 reminds me of PECAS’ writing on “systematic obedience training” through which UBF tries to usurp a recruit’s right to make his own choices. It’s helpful to know that, in essence, UBF’s system and tactics are as old as the existence of cults themselves.

The Discipleship Game

Chapter 1

You agree to wait for confirmation from your discipler before initiating important decisions. This works out to be getting permission.

Let’s start by playing a game. Below are twelve items, six of which you are to pick:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

What you do not know is that I have decided I don’t want you to choose items 4, 7, or 10. On the other hand, I do want you to take items 2 and 5. The rest are of no consequence to me. What are the chances you will pick the ones I want you to choose and not choose the ones I don’t want you to? Not very good, are they? How could I get you to pick the ones I want without telling you? How could I control you to make my choices your choices but make you think that you decided?

Easy. I could play a manipulative discipleship game. First, before you started the game, I would teach you that, although this may be your first time playing, I have played this game a lot. In fact, I have spent so much time in prayer and study that God now inspires me to know the best choices (This often implies that God inspires me to know the best choices for you too). Then we would begin to play. After two choices, I would tell you that it is God who wants us to agree on each choice. This, I would tell you, is the kind of spiritual unity the Bible teaches. With this in mind, you would proceed with the remaining choices.

Suppose in those six choices, you only stumbled on one of the three items I did not want you to take. This is the only time I had to tell you that I did not agree with you. And, when you were on your last choice and you still had not picked item 5, I shared with you that God revealed to me the superiority of item 5. So you took it last. Five out of six times you got your choice, but you also benefited from my “divinely inspired wisdom” to make a good last selection.

You feel as though you are making up your own mind pretty well. You feel neither coerced nor controlled. In fact, you appreciated the help you got. In the end, however, I got what I wanted without your knowing it; and, of course, I was the one who told you had twelve choices and who directed you to select only six. I set up the rules of the game.

Abusive discipleship is played approximately the same way. Control over people is disguised as agreement with a discipler who, you are told, has your best interests at heart. Unlike the game, the choices are not trivial, but are more likely to be important (e.g., whom to marry, what vocation to pursue, and where to live). Unlike the game, however, abusive discipleship results in unnecessary fear, shame, and guilt—and, most importantly, the rules of abusive discipleship are not Biblical rules.